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Canadians Hang Bug Off Golden Gate 294

Strider- writes: "Early on the morning of Feb. 5th, a group of Canadian Engineering students from the University of British Columbia accomplished their annual prank: hanging a Volkswagen Beetle off of some structure, usually a bridge. However, to celebrate the 20th aniversary of this annual event, they went for the creme de la crem, la piece de resistance: They hung the Beetle off of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge."
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Canadians Hang Bug Off Of Golden Gate

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  • I do agree this is a disturbance to some, especially those cargo ships, but why the hell can't anybody take it for what it is : a harmless publicity prank ? Sure.. let those psycho rapists walk around, but arrest a bunch of genius students who are just displaying their talent just because some fat cop's not getting laid enough ? Geezus.. life wasn't meant to be taken so damned seriously.
  • As far as I remember, they did not assemble the WHOLE car and make it run, just the outer shell (with the cop car lights of course)
  • by bellings ( 137948 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @06:04AM (#453452)
    I thought it would have been common sense to just make sure there was no shipping traffic below the bridge, then cut the cord...

    You can't just leave a few hundred pounds of scrap metal in the bottom of the bay! That's one of the purest bodies of water on the planet -- no-one has ever indiscriminately thrown trash in there.
  • Hitlers reign of terror is responsible for creating alot of things that we use today.. lasers.. rockets.. advanced airplanes with jet engines.. his control made alot f our lives better today.. all you ever hear about is how many jews he killed.. which.. yeah.. sucks.. but how often do you hear about how many arabs the jews killed? and what did they give us!?

  • You always get caught at UofC because you aren't very bright about it. The HRC hasn't had a good plan in years. Us guy's from SAIT on the other hand had a very small group, with a good plan, and managed to pull several small scale stunts in our years. It's great to see that UBC is setting a standard for you youngin's to live up to. Now get the HRC to come up with a real plan, and they too can pull it off without getting caught.
  • As an immigrant in this fine country I have to admit to beeing proud. The idea though is stolen. I remember in the 70's when someone (presumably students at the Royal Institute of Technology) hung a complete bug under the span of Stockholms largest bridge.
  • Oh good, so I'm not the only one thinking "How in the world do you hang a software bug from a bridge?"
  • <h3>Sad drug joke of the day</h3&gt

    What the difference between Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whisky?

    The Irish put an E in it, how thoughtful.

    With apologies to Ally McCoist.

  • hell yes so we have the biggest drug usage in western north america we have the largest number of free-thinkers in western north america! :P drugs are bad, mmkay? no, thats just a myth fed to you the most used drug (well, most used schedule I controlled substance) is marijuana whih has ben proven, many times, to be safer than either alcohol or tobacco and atleast the potheads in vancouver arent scared by the system into meekly obeying an unfair law potheads forever!
  • la creme de la creme(both creme spelled the same) is right in that context though la piece de resistance usually means the main dish of a meal so one might argue that this expression is out of place...

    from an annoying french canadian
  • > - suspended below the Lions Gate Bridge
    > - suspended above the Lions Gate Bridge

    So, what you're telling me is that they're going to hit San Francisco again next year?

    - David
  • True. But how exactly do they get charged in a Canadian court for something that happened in the US?
  • by Howie ( 4244 )
    "...takes a lot more skill then that."

    What is it with you people? THEN [dictionary.com] is not the same as THAN [dictionary.com].
  • Well duh!

    Stepping forward to be tossed in jail would be pretty stupid. It'd be like DeCSS and then mailing it to the MPAA with your return address on it.

    No harm was done, no jail time or $10,000 fine should be needed.

    It's fairly common knowledge at UBC who the engineers are who perform these pranks. Nobody actually acts on this information though because in most cases they don't cause any problems and no harm is done. They'd be insane to step forward and let some over zealous cop arrest them.

    The one year that actually damaged something (nothing major, but they scraped up whatever they mounted the VW on) a cheque was delivered to the city (anonymously) for damages.

    I don't remember the details exactly, but it's fairly obvious that while they're pulling a bit of a stunt they aren't actually damaging anything.
  • It is even prouder to be a Canadian with gooder grammer. :P
  • That's remarkably unfunny. And with a score of 5. More and more, I'm starting to think I'm at the wrong website.
  • It's not really terribly hard. Just use a Really Big Rope(tm) and strip the VW of all the heavy parts. And they had practice, this was twenty years after the first time...

    Until we hear further we won't know if they just tied the rope to a railing and pitched, or if they went under the bridge earlier to rig up a better tie-down. I suspect they did, if only to deny easy access to the rope and prevent a few brawny cops with a winch or block and tackle from pulling it back up again.

    Anyways, their original pranks required a bit of skill. Their later pranks seem to be more quick little reminders of how odd it seemed when they did the first one, rather than a true prank in their own rights.

    IMHO they should take the VW to new heights, attach it between high-rises in the downtown core, or something similarly bizarre. Park it in the street and have it self-winch itself up at 7am, or something.

    I think it was funny, but nothing exceptional.
  • Definately don't read much.
    They still havn't figured out how they secured the cables to the bridge.
    Sorry, I didn't realize that re-assembling hoses and wires to their designated space took an engineering degree. I'll have to ask my speedy muffler attendant which ESS he belongs to.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You obviously think you're emulating the great hacks of MIT - and are congratulating each other on being oh-so-clever. But here's the difference - MIT was amusing, but at no time inconvenienced tens of thousands of people - who, by the way, don't give a rat's arse for you or your dilettante egos. Fuck you - I hope to read they have expelled all who took part.

    Back in the early 60's my father and his friends pulled this same prank on one of his high school teachers but they reassembled the car in the teacher's office. As chance would have it the high school in question is in Vancouver. Of course then they had to take it apart again and redo the whole thing or face suspension... probably didn't quite seem as funny then.

    The news account I heard on television indicated that they used bungees to hold the shell of the beetle, which they estimated to be 500 lbs. Considering that the UBC guys used two cords and I've seen a 300 lb guy bungee jump on one cord (really not a pretty sight) I'd say they were within tolerances for the bungees.

    FWIW, the author is wrong in stating that the Golden Gate is the creme de la creme of suspension bridges. There's one in Japan that's significantly longer. [discovery.com] I saw the Discovery program on it and it's a pretty wicked piece of tech. The main span of the Akashi-Kaikyo bridge is 6532 feet compared to the Golden Gate's 4200 foot span. And it survived the earthquake that hit Kobe with no problems whatsoever - it connects Kobe to Awaji Island so it took a pretty massive hit from the quake.

  • It is PROUD to be Canadian, especially Western Canadian...... :)

  • I like your attitude, but exactly what law did they break. Is their a San Fran statute that states that no vehicle will be suspended from bridges? My favorite charge (from the article) is the trespassing. How do you trespass on a public bridge?
  • by Chmarr ( 18662 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @12:12AM (#453477)
    I'm of two minds deciding wether it would be worthwhile, or even proper, to prosecute the cuprits (if they're ever found).

    Sure, its a great 'hack' in the true sense of the word, but can we truely rely on their safety assurance skills? Also, look at the traffic trouble they caused: I wonder how many people missed their flights from SFO because of the trouble.

    Personally, I think they should both be congratulated, and be sentenced to community service at the same time :)
  • by Spackler ( 223562 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @04:16AM (#453478) Journal
    Micrososft responded today by hanging 63,000 bugs off of windows. Bill Gates was heard to say that those Canadians were wimps for only doing one. We will kick their collective ass.

    He then proceeded to buy canada, and lay off all the students who had done this.
  • by Sodakar ( 205398 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @12:13AM (#453480)
    Wow, close to first post.. Anyhow, having been a victim of the traffic caused by the VW this morning.... I will share...

    Anyhow... rumorville says that in the past years, they have managed to get a VW onto the bridge towers back home -- which is more impressive, IMHO, then tossing a car off the bridge. I mean... hanging a VW (chassis only, almost) off the side of the bridge via nylon cable sounds pretty simple... Tie car to bridge, throw car off bridge with multiple people, or off a ramp. Done.

    But... getting the car to a higher ground would be far more challenging... I wonder how they managed to get the VW up onto the bridge towers in the past without getting caught...

    Despite being inconvenienced, I thought it was pretty amusing. My only gripe was that they chose to do this prank on a bridge with already horrible visibility... Thankfully the VW was 100 feet off the ground, but if it ended up getting hung lower, we'd have ferries crashing into it...
  • So they were trying to impress cowardly, irrespoNsible engineers?

    No, only engineers (and others) with a sense of humor. Which they did.

  • Part of the reason thet I imagine they're being so picky about this is that the Golden Gate Bridge has a huge draw for such things. They stopped realeasing the number of people who have killed themselved by jumping off of it years ago because they thought it was only encouraging others. Though the number is no doubt much higher than for your average bridge. (There was a special on the History Channel, sorry i don't remember more details)
    It's a highly patroled area and the city/police are very concerned with anything that goes on there in general. To simply let them get away with this would no doubt be an insult to the efforts they've made and would encourage a far larger than average number of "copycat" pranks that would endanger many (being that few would be by engineers)
    I really don't think that this group researched things well enough to say that they were truly concerned with "safety first". There are pranks, and then there's crimes, things you just have to suck it up and deal with the consequences for once you've done them.

    The oddest thing I noticed in the article was the quote from the president of the university, "There's a little bit of a cheer that goes up when you see someone has found a way to put us on the TV and helped raise people's awareness about engineering...I think we all cheer when students do this." I don't know what James Stukel (president of the University of Illinois) would say if some of his students did something like this but I doubt he would encourage others to "cheer"...
  • I'm glad to see a return to a genuinely creative and interesting stunt from the nadir of "let's go down to the University of Washington, smash the trophy case, and steal the Rose Bowl trophy" a few years back.

    Ummmm ... well ... that was never intended to be a stunt. That was a night of drinking after a day of flying at Tiger that somehow went horribly, horribly wrong. Kinda embarrassing, actually.

    But it was one of the best "Dude, what is that thing and why is it on my couch?" moments ever :)
  • Of course, the locals went nuts and have shown no sense of humor about this. Yet another reason to keep packing and keep looking for that job in Canada before George "The Thief" Bush turns this country into a fascist police state. Considering San Francisco is an ultra-liberal town, I guess those Democrats are the ones without a sense of humor. :)
  • by RayChuang ( 10181 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @04:30AM (#453500)
    Yawn. :-)

    The UBC prank seems totally unimaginative compared to some of the hacks pulled off by California Institute of Technology (CalTech) students.

    Who could forget when someone hacked the scoreboard at the Rose Bowl so during the Rose Bowl game it showed CalTech winning over MIT? I saw this on live TV some years ago and that was a real classic.

    But still, perhaps the most famous hack of all time (IMHO! :-) ) is one time a small group of CalTech students hacked a grandstand placard display from a college team back east. Done back in the days before computers were common, the result was that during a game at the Rose Bowl when the team's fans held up the placards, instead of the something of the colors of the home team it really spelled out CALTECH.
  • So what was their goal? To safely hang a VW from a bridge in a manor that would receive media attention.

    Hanging a manor [dictionary.com] from the GG bridge would, indeed, be an impressive feat of engineering, as well as a dramatic perversion of the classis physics model. You'd have to shrink it a bit.


  • Are they going to close down the border? Really, I doubt that SF is going to pay to send cops to another country to investigate a prank. Let alone pay to send an lawyer to Canada to get them extradited? The prank is funny, but the cops commenting in the story are smoking crack.
  • IIRC, the engineers (or the aggies) also put up "sculpture" all over the campus over a period of months.

    It was ooohed and ahhhed over by the arts students. Fine art sculpture on campus!

    Then the pranksters spent one fine spring morning razing the sculptures.

    The artsies, and university, freaked. Most amusing.

    IIRC, they also did something with signposts on campus.

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @07:26AM (#453514)
    >Sure, its a great 'hack' in the true sense of the word, but can we truely rely on their safety assurance skills?

    In a few years, you will be. You already are relying on the safety clue of others who have done similar pranks, and so am I.

    That's what it means to be an Engineer.

  • You (and I) wish.

    The NAFTA agreement makes it pretty clear that we're fucked. We started supplying the assholes with electricity, so we *have* to continue supplying it.

    We no longer have control of who we sell to, at what price and when.

  • I remember that story, a bit better. I don't remember the year, but for those interested it goes something like this:

    Buchanin (the new arts building at the time) received a bunch of new sculptures that Plant was suppose to put up. Plant are the guys who run the steam plants (yes we have steam tunnels at UBC) and do all the maintenance. Of course plant was taking their sweet time. So Engineering decided to play a prank.

    They came up with the most hiddious statues you can think of and then put them inplace. They then started a campaign in the university newpaper, letters to the editor, articles and similar things, about how bad the art students' taste was and how they could make statues just as bad. The arts students fought back saying that the statues were master pieces.

    It came to head one day when the engineers went out and started smashing the statues. It all ended when the engineers admitted that they made the statues, and the real ones were still waiting in a basement somewhere for Plant to install them.

    The Engineers are UBC have done a similar thing with 'indecent' books at the main library. Planting the books in the library, complaining about all the smut and then having a book burning later on.
  • Check out "If At All Possible, Involve a Cow" by Joel Steinberg. It's available at Amazon or wherever, and details all sorts of college pranks, including extensive info on CalTech and MIT and even a short section on UBC.
  • Do you understand context? When quoting, use enough of the original text to maintain proper context.

    The full sentence was "Schools have no place teaching ethics or morals, asside from those directly releated to the job, and even then it's a "peer-accepted code of conduct".

    That "Code of Ethics" you posted was directly work related.

    Even if a school should be teaching ethics or morals outside of a work environment, #2 was directly work related. "... professional assignments..." That explicitly refers to a paid working environment, instead of pranks or back-yard projects.

    You're obviously over your head here, relying on personal attacks. I said nothing about my view of how things WERE, I stated my views on how they should be.

    A certain level of professional conduct is required from an engineer, but professional conduct means the way they conduct themselves professionally. If they're not working, the code of ethics is inapplicable. The code could directly say "... shall never hang cars from bridges ..." and still not apply because it's PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT they're talking about. Unless these engineers took a contract to hang this car, it wasn't a work situation.

    Then you skip everything you don't have an easy answer for to support your views....

    I mentioned that they were threatened with a lawsuit instead of being asked for damages; it is unclear if anything was even damaged.

    I also asked if you felt the need to submit to my arbitrary punishments for your actions, as misguided as you may consider them. And if not, why you see wild threats and accusations as being meaningful just because they're from a government official and not when they're from a private citizen?

    Face it, they did something you couldn't do, you're jealous. If you had anything to base your complaints on you'd have posted something on-topic and meaningful.
  • It sounds like an urban legend but it's not, it's well documented. There's a long history of student pranks here in Finland, and that (among other good ones) is quite true. They keep records of these things at the university, since there is actually an annual student prank contest at the University of Technology. This year some guys exchanged the labels on some cans of beans (or whatever) at supermarkets with authentic-looking labels thay advertised the cans as containing "Seal meat" (or "norpan lihaa" in Finnish, "norppa" is a variety of Finnish seal which on the protected animals list). The store managers were reportedly quite puzzled when irate shoppers saw the cans on the shelf...

  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @09:38AM (#453529) Homepage
    Well, then you gotta worry about the wannabes who will imitate the prank, possibly not listening to the implicit "don't try this at home kids".

    Then there's the issue with San Francisco - possibly the VW beetle capitol of the US. No small number of vintage aircooled VW fans were deeply offended today at a destruction of a piece of automotive history. You can take that to the bank.
  • CalTech hacked the Rose Bowl game.
  • Okay, lets be realistic - how much damage would a collision between a stripped-down VW beetle body, hanging from a cable, and a ship moving at the most, 15 knots. Maybe some scratched paint.
  • by Trickster Coyote ( 34740 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @05:20AM (#453544) Homepage
    Seriously, lets declare war on them and force them to feed California all their electricity!

    Actually, BC Hydro is already supplying a big chunk of electric power to California. Last week, with over $400M owing, the California utilities announced they would only be paying 15 cents on the dollar. BC might not be sending much more juice south if this situation continues.

    Trickster Coyote
    Howl at the Moon!
  • According to Bartleby [bartleby.com], it's Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, though it was apparently a common saying at the time.
  • I don't think the students caused any traffic trouble. The CHP caused the trouble by pointlessly blocking the road. Did they think the weight of a VW bug was going to break the bridge? If you want the CHP officers sentenced to community service, I'll second that.
  • If you were one of the boats waiting to cross under the bridge for 4 hours, losing money all the time, I bet you and your lawyers wouldn't be laughing so much.
  • So this is my Ask Slashdot... what other schools have cool geek tradition like this, aside from the obvious MIT (but have they ever accomplished anything this amazing?)

    And companies?

    Keep innovation and prankstership thriving!
  • I'm sure your definition of a real engineer is the correct one...

    Respect for a legal system that's threatening overblown fines and jail time for a harmless prank? Dude, even your own citizens don't respect your laws, why should anyone else?

    I would agree that someone should come forward if they caused harm, like a driver stopping instead of speeding off after an accident, but I don't think this is anything like that.

    Why would they pay for someone to fish it out of the bay? It wasn't them who dumped it into the water. If the officials cared about it, they could have either winched it back up or attached a longer rope to it and lowered it onto a barge. I'd agree that the engineers should pay for any work entailed in a rational cleanup, but nobody is asking that. Instead they threaten jail time.

    A cheque was the term used when I heard about it, but I'd guess that it was a money order, or other pre-paid cashable.
  • Sure, so a bunch of people come forward after having written something like DeCSS, and they all get sued back into the stone age. For what purpose?

    Everything they accomplished by releasing the source code can be done with an anonymous release, as well as staying out of a corrupt court facing insane damages for lawyers for a faceless corp.

    The engineers didn't do anything that required blocking traffic. At most, one lane should have been blocked while they hauled it up. That would have been a disruption, true, but if they were asked to make reasonable restitution for it, I think they'd do it. But to expect them to come forward to be stuck in a foreign prison in a country with an appalingly back record when it comes to justice... No.

    As for the Ghandi/MPAA thing, I do think it's a bad metaphor. But, not all change must come with a martyr. Releasing something like DeCSS and watching the corps scramble when its shown that their bought laws are irrelevant to the issues at hand and that they're willing to violate the rights of anyone who gets in their way to protect their ill-gotten profits... That says more to the public than someone getting arrested and tossed in jail to rot, while the MPAA-owned media calls them an evil hacker.

    You may think that quiet suffering is the only force for change, but I disagree.
  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @09:55AM (#453566) Homepage
    I've always thought that a great way to paralyze the US for a day would be to coordinate about two dozen people in major cities across the US to buy $100 junkers, drive them down the freeways during morning rush hour, and park them at strategic locations, pop the hood, toss in a smoke-bomb, and drive off in a freind's car.

    The rubberneckers would keep the roads clogged for hours.
  • by ericdano ( 113424 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @12:29AM (#453567) Homepage
    Blame Canada
    Blame Canada
    For all the Volkswagon Bugs
    they go around hangin' 'round like thugs

    Seriously, lets declare war on them and force them to feed California all their electricity!

  • We have found the KURO5HIN mole!!!!


  • by iomud ( 241310 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @12:29AM (#453571) Homepage Journal
    Canadians actually buy into that turbonium stuff...
  • No one gets hurt 'cause they're ENGINEERS.

    Yeah, and Windows wont crash because they're SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS!

    Karma karma karma karma karmeleon: it comes and goes, it comes and goes.
  • Thanks. You said exactly what I've wanted to say to those who are underestimating this task.
    But leaving aside engineering cleverness, the rigging work below the bridge deck must have taken a lot of courage. Working aloft, in the dark, in constant danger of arrest or falling is not everyone's cup of tea.
  • For the record, the Golden Gate Bridge District has never put safety, or the letter of the law, at the top of its priorities, and it has been negligent for the past decade.

    In 1990, a man was riding a bicycle across the bridge when a pedestrian stepped in front of him. The resulting collision caused the bicyclist to be thrown over the ankle-high "safety railing" that separates car traffic from pedestrians and bicyclists, and he was quickly run over and killed. The bridge was deemed negligent if it failed to correct the problem, but in ten years, nothing has been done. They put six foot temporary fences along the railing to protect their workers from falling tools, but a fence half as high along the inside railing has never been attempted.

    A few years ago, a two-year old slid through the gap beneath this same railing and died from the resulting fall. The bridge district immediately placed a cable across the openings. However the height of the barriers is still the same. Perhaps if they had fixed the barriers as they should have originally, the child might not have died.

  • I submitted this very story yesterday before, and it was rejected.

    2001-02-06 02:50:18 Engineers Suspend VW Bug from Golden Gate Bridge (articles,humor) (rejected)

    Even the wording was very similar. What's with Slashdot's submissions process? There seems to be a strong bias towards only accepting articles from a certain "in" group. Bastards...
  • I remember a prank from my college days.

    It was personal - against a member of my clique who had broken her ankle tripping over a tree root.

    We cut down a small tree (5" thick trunk) in a vacant lot, drove it to my house, near campus, hid it in the back yard. The next day, we hand-carried it through 6 suburban blocks to the college parking lot, and placed it next to her car.

    While carrying this tree down the street, we realized how it was the exact same species and approximate age as the other trees lining the street, and worried that a passing police officer would think we cut it down from someone's front yard. In fact, a cop did drive by minutes after we realized this, and he looked at us, with this look on his face: "three young males carrying a tree down the sidewalk. . . that's normal" - and he drove on, leaving us to complete the prank in peace.

    And of course, there's the typical cheesy - go into the drama club's display case, and rearrange the action figures they have set up in a mock performace, to resemble hardcore porn - we had to break Barbie's knees, and JB Weld them back into a bent position, because she wouldn't get on her knees. Yes, one of us just happened to have JB Weld - this fucker was one of those guys who always wore a big winter parka, pockets filled with everything he might need for the coming apocolypse, including a small socket-set.
  • Has a Fb (false but...) in the AFU FAQ

    Actually, the "b" stands for "believed." As it "Believed to be false, but you can't prove a negative."

  • The most effective hack of that kind occurred in San Jose about 20 years ago. The interchange of I-280 and I-680 in San Jose is complete now, but for years it was in a very strange state. Two levels of high bridges over the freeways were in place, but they ended in midair, unconnected to any ramps. This was by design; CALTRANS built the high bridges when the freeway went in, even though the traffic level didn't yet justify them, intending to finish the interchange when traffic increased. It looked like a strange sculpture, a huge, useless, very visible construct.

    One day in the early 1980s, the high bridges were found full of cars. It quickly turned out to be a well-funded lobbying operation by several local businesspeople wanted the interchange finished. They'd brought in a large crane late at night, and simply done it as if it was a construction project, with guys in hard hats, flares, and lights. It worked; they got enough political attention on the interchange to get the money to finish it, and today it's the biggest interchange in the South Bay.

  • by evil_one ( 142582 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @12:44AM (#453596) Homepage
    What? When was the last time MIT students traveled halfway across the hemisphere into a foreign country, risking their academic careers (A jail + court stint can really cut into your class time!) and preformed an [illegal] engineering feat? MIT almost always stays on their home turf, and pulls from a student base signifigantly larger than UBC's. I have undergrad engineering friends here at Lakehead (a northern Ontario U) who know that UBC will be the toast of all the engineering conventions for the rest of the year, and the year's just begun. Nothing like having the canuck's invade your soil to put you in defense mode, eh?

  • Sure, its a great 'hack' in the true sense of the word, but can we truely rely on their safety assurance skills?

    You rely on their skills every day, in every manufactured product you use.

  • The engine alone weighs 275 lbs.

    This, I know, from experience.

    Without the engine, two strong men could lift the body of a beetle over their heads. With the engine, three, maybe four are required.
  • Y'know, of all the possible definitions for the word "bug," this was the last one I was expecting when I opened this article. ^_^
  • hemisphere is half of the globe. Half of a half = 1/4
    so it's a slight exaggeration. I do mean slight.
  • Its not the point of if you think it is fair to punish them or not. This is irrelvant to the issue. Its called respect for the legal system.

    Respect for the legal system??? The same one that passes the DMCA? The same one that is mocked around the world? When even many Americans have no respect for their legal system, what makes you think that foreign nationals would care one bit.

    It was a prank, ok? Perhaps if Americans spent less time abusing their own system to their advantage, by suing everytime they fall over, they might be a little more relaxed and be able to sit back and appreciate the cleverness of such a prank.

    The point of the annual bug toss is to draw attention to engineering and particularly to those who build bridges. It is also a challenge to city engineers made by engineering students -- specifically, can the city engineers figure a way out to recover the thing. Obviously, the Americans couldn't comprehend this, so they dumped the thing in the ocean. Greaaat.

    How can a cheque be anonymous? You can always trace it back. Who signed it?

    The UBC Engineering Students' Society has bank accounts of its own. Nobody said it was anonymous -- the ESS paid for it on behalf of the engineers who did it.

  • by Tim ( 686 ) <timr AT alumni DOT washington DOT edu> on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @12:52AM (#453627) Homepage
    Same two guys, standing on a ferry below the golden gate. Camera pans out to show beetle hanging from above:

    "Didn't I tell you to let out on the clutch easier?"
  • I first heard about this story before UBC had taken credit. I turned to the person who told me and, having heard mom's stories from when she was dating a UBC engineer, said, "You know, I bet the UBC Engineers ran out of Vancouver bridges to hang bugs off of. Imagine my suprise when I turned out to be right. Heh.

    Hats off to em, going to a foriegn country, and executing this prank in a very public place, without being caught. Bravo!
    Remove the rocks to send email
  • THAT'S why they look like little Nazi helmets!

    Actually, it was the underlying engineering that Porsche was wholly responsible for, that was amazing about this car. Not the sheet metal.

    The aircooled engine would be reliable in a desert.
    The small displacement would provide fuel economy.
    The rear-engine placement would aid in the efficient weight distribution of the car (as well as allow rear-wheel drive, for better turn-radius, and simpler manufacturing).
    The flat-four engine design allowed for a lower profile and less space required inside the car - allowing for a better aerodynamic profile.
    The torsion-bar suspension allowed for excellent handling and weight capacity, and could also be very cheaply manufactured - as an added bonus, torsion-bars are adapted most well to offroad applications (thus the amphibious kubelwagen, or VW Thing, which was Germany's equivalent to the US Jeep - and the same scheme has been applied in countless dune-buggy-adapted beetles).

    These same principles were applied to the legendary Porsche 356, and 550, which kicked-ass all over the sports car and racing scene of the 1950's. Porsche added two cylinders onto the end of the flat four, for the 911 (leaving the traditional flat four in the 912), and continued the legacy of creating the "Sports car for the rest of us" (true. . Porsche's are too expensive for your average American, but they're FAR more affordable, traditionally, than your Ferrari's, Jaguars, and Lambourghinis).

    So, while Hitler gave a rough outline for the sheetmetal, it was based off of the nascent science of aerodynamics, mainly pursued by Porsche and his collegues in the 20's. Hitler was a layman follower of that school of automotive engineering, so it was no mistake that his design was fairly compatible with the ideas Porsche already had pioneered. The main principles shown in the Beetle, are still part of today's most advanced Porsche cars; the rear-engine (despite Porsche's ill-advised Audi-inspired foray into the front-engined 944 and 928; pieces of crap designed to appeal to Americans who were afraid to learn how to deal with the handling characteristics of rear-engined cars), flat-six design. The suspension is more modern, as are the engine cooling systems, etc - but the basic design is still the same, tried and true from the 1930's. Truly, the Porsche is the Unix of the car-world. Front engine, front-wheel drive cars are obviously the MS Windows cars.

    Ferdinand Porsche was a man who cared little for politics, and was not a fan of Hitler or his ideas, and strongly resisted, at first, the idea of actually producing this car for him - until Hitler told him that he was right, it was probably impossible; and that challenge took advantage of Porsche's pride.
    Henry Ford, on the other hand, was a well-known racist, and supported the Nazi party from America.

    After the war, the French asked Porsche to come to France to help design a French version of the Beetle (which was not really in production yet, because they were still trying to rebuild the factory). When he arrived, they arrested him as a war criminal, and he was put to work repairing tractors.
    • It was the authorities that backed up traffic.
    AMEN, brother!

    Gez, could they have found a group any less qualified to deal with this? All doughnut and coffee jokes aside, I doubt there is anyone on the CHP payroll qualified to rate the safety of this prank. As an engineer, I cannot understand why it took them so damned long to get the shell of a VM bug (even with the engine it ain't that heavy) down... "get a rope" Hell, let the coast guard shoot it down. (However, I would discourage someone from climbing down to cut it loose with a pocket knife.)
  • The only thing that being an engineer dictates is how they should perform their job. I don't expect a doctor to be any more or less ethical than anyone else, outside of the work environment. If non-medical students would perform a prank, I can't see why a doctor wouldn't. I'd just imagine that they'd be a bit better an making sure that it had less potential for harm.

    Schools have no place teaching ethics or morals, asside from those directly releated to the job, and even then it's a "peer-accepted code of conduct". Teaching ethics is no better than a school teaching "proper christian behaviour" or any other subjective view.

    The city threatened to sue. How typically USA... They didn't ask for money, they threatened to sue for unspecified and no doubt inflated damages.

    If they were asked to cover actual damages or expenses, that'd be different.

    There's a huge difference for taking responsibility for your actions, and being the brunt of whatever assinine punishments someone choose to arbitrarily hand down to appease their hurt feelings.

    I don't suppose you'd like to submit to twenty lashes for posting your message? It's the penalty I assess for people who post irrational and unreasonable replies to my posts. Come on, take it like a man.
  • by sanemind ( 155251 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @12:54AM (#453640) Homepage
    For all you jingoistic Americans fearing an insult to your national hacking pride, rest assured by visiting At http://hacks.mit.edu/ [mit.edu]

  • by Killeri ( 238792 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @12:59AM (#453646) Homepage

    In Finland all the technological universities have a long tradition in jäynäs. One of the best jäynäs is the stunt by the divers in Helsinki University of Technology just before the Wasa ship (sunk in the Stockholm harbor in the 17th century) was raised in 1961. In the official list of artifacts found in the ship is a miniature statue of Paavo Nurmi, dated circa 20th century...

    A more recent jäynä was in 1993 (or about), again by HUT, where all speed limits in Helsinki were changed overnight from 40km/h to 30km/h. Even the chief of police managed to comment that the change was official and done in the interest of public safety...

    A good jäynä does not cause monetary loss nor is it a danger to anyone. It should cause a short inconvinience to the audience followed by a good laugh.

  • I live in SF and thought it was hilarious. So did everyone I know. Who are the locals who got angry about this?!

  • Fine, this is offtopic, but I think you can indulge me.

    So you're referring to most men in Europe as savages, then? Or do you hold the majority of North American men in higher regard (or to be more civilized) than the majority of European men solely because the North American men in question are missing a part of their penis?


    In fact, I go so far as to avoid driving or being a passenger in any European or Asian car. It's my personal feeling that if the people of a given society can't figure out something as simple as the benefits of circumcision, they probably didn't do such a hot job with brakes and suspension, either.

    Sadly, when I wrote to my Member of Parliament to protest the fact that these obviously flawed vehicles were allowed to be on the road, I was rebuffed rather summarily. Go figure - I later found out that he drives a Volvo.

    Now, if you haven't taken all that with a grain of salt, I suggest you pull out the shaker and get to work.

    Truth is, I was circumcised when I was 22. It was as a result of a zipper accident. I was hanging around with a bunch of University of Michigan engineering students. We'd all had way too much to drink. I went to the can. I zipped up the fly too fast and had to be rushed to the emergency room... in the weeks that followed, I was disappointed and upset. However, in the years since, I've changed my tune and have become quite the circumcision advocate.

    You see, during sex, there's the "in" stroke, and there's the "out" stroke. During the "in" stroke, the foreskin rolls back, exposing the head. During the "out" stroke, however, the foreskin rolls over the head and dulls all sensation. It's therefore no exaggeration to say that sex is at least 50% better since I was circumcised.

    As for missing part of my penis, I don't feel that way at all. It's a rather inconsequential roll of shaft skin that is rendered redundant - and even turned into a liability - by the human propensity towards clothing. My libido is unaffected. And I am still very much a man, thank you.

    It's kinda like taking the catalytic converter off your car. All of a sudden, your gas mileage and performance increase greatly.

    My only regret is that I didn't have the zipper accident sooner.

  • And what, pray tell, does circumcision have to do with UNIX?!

    UNIX, when pronounced as a word, has a homonym that describes a person who has endured a somewhat more radical alteration of the male anatomy. Lest you be confused.

    Most people seem to understand and enjoy my sig, based on the sheer volume of e-mail that it creates for me.

  • The "culprits" are now safely back in Canada. They're tired, but very happy.

    Their three goals? Coverage on international press (Sydney, Australia covered it), coverage on CNN (accomplished), and coverage on Slashdot.

    As for all you weenies saying they should be prosecuted or forced to pay for all the time lost, just go ahead and subtract that from the $200 million+ your state has stolen from our province.
  • I'd be more impressed if they could:

    Solve "the Quebec Problem"
    Build Canada a functioning economy
    Reduce Canadian taxation levels
    Get Jean Chretien to resign
    End the socialist dictatorship system in Canada
    Rewrite the Constitution and Bill Of Rights of Canada to allow Canadians to have free speech, defend themselves, and own property (apart from just paying taxes on things they own)
    Raise Canadian job opportunities and salaries to US levels

    THOSE would be impressive engineering feats. But that would be beyond their ken.
  • by Barbarian ( 9467 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @01:18AM (#453677)
    Good to see that UBC has pulled off another one of their STUdeNt projecTs.

    Unfortunately, at University of Calgary, where I attend, we never manage to pull this stuff off without getting caught.

    UBC started this car-off-a-bridge thing, as the article said, about 20 years ago, with a car under the Lion's Gate bridge in Vancouver, BC, a large suspension bridge as well. Almost the exact same method of deployment -- students experienced in climbing set up all the rigging underneath, then a team arrived, attached to the end of the cable which had been pulled up and temporarily attached to the pedestrian railing, and pushed the car over.
  • In addition to it being illegal to climb on the underside of the bridge (which other people already pointed out), it is also illegal to throw anything over the side of the bridge. In the cases of both the Golden Gate and the Bay Bridge, the police enforce these statutes VERY strictly. I was cuffed, arrested, and fined $250 about 10 years ago for throwing a SODA CAN over the side of the Golden Gate...so I can only imagine how bad these guys'll have it if they get caught.
  • by Maldivian ( 264175 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @01:20AM (#453683)
    Attaching a beetle with a good wire and then pushing it off the edge of the bridge doesnt seem to be very technical. I would have hoped that they would have done something more creative (what they did, any hick with a truck and an empty beetle shell could have pulled).

    Imagine for instance if they suspended the beetle with match sticks (assume they figure out the tensile strenths involved), or more realistically if they used wire made out of spider webs (I think this might just be the right material). I would highly be impressed and it would definetly be worth the trouble of hanging the car there and causing all the traffic mishaps. Maybe the might even win an award?
  • I'm not an ignorant twit. I for one happen to know unlike most Canadians that you don't have the right to own your own property thanks to that communist son of a bitch Trudeau.

    The wild economic forecast is being adjusted as we speak, son. I don't forsee taxes dropping nor the dollar going up in value any time soon.
  • by Orava ( 21071 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @01:33AM (#453698) Homepage

    Another good HUT prank involved park benches in Helsinki. I don't remember what year this was, but the story goes somewhat like this:

    First off, students at HUT (and other Finnish universities) have distinctive coveralls which they (we :) wear when they want to distinguish themselves as students during various student- oriented occasions. These coveralls have different colors, and Finns are quite used to associating people in colored coveralls with "a bunch of students doing some weird student stuff. This is not something that students wear as everyday wear, mind you, it's reserved for certain occasions.

    Anyway, during this caper some students went out and (with great difficulty) purchased a park bench from the city/park authorities. They got a receipt, and then proceeded to carry this park bench across town. It didn't take long for some police to stop them, with the assumption that the guys had stolen the bench. The students showed the police the receipt, and complained that they were getting stopped by the police all the time and could the police do something about it? Finnish police being generally quite helpful, the policemen radioed out a notice that there were a couple of students (in coveralls) carrying a legal bench across town and that they should not be harassed.

    Naturally, as soon as this was done a lot of students in identical coveralls proceeded to grab most of the park benches in central Helsinki and carry them to a pre-arranged location. Rumor has it that they managed to stack up hundreds of park benches into an "artistic" formation before anyone else got a clue that something strange was going on :)

  • by blonde rser ( 253047 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @02:10AM (#453701) Homepage
    One of the major factors of any engineering design is resource management; in these case how to accomplish their goal with as little work as possible.

    So what was their goal? To safely hang a VW from a bridge in a manor that would receive media attention. To do this they would have to choose a bridge that was seen by the world. This means they had very little access to the bridge and very little time to accomplish their task. Also they had to design a system that was difficult to undo or the authorities would have quickly pulled the car back up the way it went down.

    If any hick could do this why don't you tell us of a system that meets all of these criteria. Remember that how their hang was implemented is still a mystery; even to those who could directly observe the results. If you can't understand the skill that went into successfully pulling off such a caper then you aren't the type of person that engineers are trying to impress.
  • I suspect the hardest bit of engineering was not pushing it over, but attaching the supporting cable to the bridge. It's not like they tied it to a lamp post, they ran cables under the bridge.
  • >No one gets hurt 'cause they're ENGINEERS. They have looked at all the contingent risks and eliminated them.

    Three words following these: Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
  • "but can we truely rely on their safety assurance skills? Also, look at the traffic trouble they caused: I wonder how many people missed their flights from SFO because of the trouble. "

    Wooaaahhh. I don't think you like the idea of people of people trying out skills and hacks... . Come on. It didn't fall down. These people knew what they were doing. Maybe we should deny computer students access to telnet/ ftp / internet on the basis that we can't rely on their 'safety assurance skills'. ;-)

    Yup, they broke the law. But I think they were careful not to endanger anybody. Who did they harm?

    The world is a grey enough place as it is. I think we should encourage more of this kind of activity.

  • by mav[LAG] ( 31387 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @02:25AM (#453712)
    Try typing in BLAMECANADA when you play the next version of Flight Unlimited, Flight Simulator or Pro Pilot and then fly under the Golden Gate. The developers might pay tribute :)
  • You wrote:

    "However, the long term benefits of pioneering the coolest hack (on-line or off-a-bridge), far outweigh any temporary inconvenience"

    What are some of the "long-term benefits" of hanging a Volkswagen off of a bridge? How is the prank "pioneering"? Is this some sort of breakthrough event that will pave the way for the next bunch of silly college students to hang a tractor-trailer rig off of the Bay Bridge?

    The stunt was a juvenile, disruptive, and life-threatening bit of pointless nonsense.

    The ridiculous press release proudly proclaims that the prank was done to "draw attention to the masterful feats of professional engineers and to celebrate the skills of the tradespeople who built the bridges" but Ms. Steele is at least honest enough to admit its true purpose: "someone has found a way to put us on the TV"

    I found the remark about the 'tradespeaople' especially immature: the tradesemen that built the bridge risked their lives to feed their families and create a beautifull and functional structure that has great practical and aesthetic merit. Invoking the name of the 'tradespeople' in an attempt to justify a worthless, potentially harmfull prank is offensive.
  • .. I also live about 2 miles from the Golden Gate... would have been cool to walk down and check it out.

    You said it yourself...
  • by jcr ( 53032 )

    Back in high school, the class three years ahead of mine somehow got a VW bug on the roof of the school, and they didn't lighten it by losing the engine the way these guys did.

    I give this prank a c-.

  • Given the fact that one of the two major power companies in Califoria just defaulted on thier 500 million dollar plus payment to BC Hydro a.k.a. Powerex (paying only 15 cents on the dollar) I would have to say way to go UBC Engineers. We've kept the lights on in California for too long. Go ahead press charges... and hold court by candlelight. To the guy who wonders how many people missed flights because of it... I wonder how many flights were saved because of us silly reckless Canadians who have the forsight to plan ahead when it come to our infrastructure. Just plain good engineering all around I say!
  • by ArtDent ( 83554 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @02:01AM (#453720)

    Anyhow... rumorville says that in the past years, they have managed to get a VW onto the bridge towers back home -- which is more impressive, IMHO, then tossing a car off the bridge.

    The rumours are true. In our proud 20 years of E-week stunt history, the UBC Engineers have placed beetles in all sorts of places:

    • atop Gage Residence (a 17 story building, the highest on the UBC campus)
    • on a fountain in the middle of Stanley Park's Lost Lagoon
    • suspended below the Lions Gate Bridge
    • suspended above the Lions Gate Bridge
    • suspended below the Alex Fraser Bridge
    • suspended above the Alex Fraser Bridge
    • suspended between the Burrard and Granville Street Bridges
    • suspended above the entrance to the Massey Tunnel
    • suspended from the wall of the (then) new Vancouver Public Library

    Other pranks of note:

    • the Grate Rosebowl Heist
    • borrowing the speaker's chair from the Provincial Legislature in Victoria
    • programming the UBC clock tower bells to play "The Engineers' Hymn"
    • hanging a giant red "E" on the side of Science World's geodesic dome
    • programming the traffic control lights on the Lions Gate Bridge to flash "UBC Engineers do it again"

    Happy E-week everybody! ERTW!

  • Why exactly, was it necessary to pull that bug down immediately? It was causing problems with boat traffic, but it's a big bridge! Surely boat traffic could be re-routed, while the bug was dealt with when there was less traffic going over the bridge!

    From what I understand the bug was hanging directly over one of the shipping channels. There are two shipping channels under the Golden Gate Bridge. An inbound and an out bound. Most container ships that come into the San Francisco Bay draw so much water that they must stay in the dreged shipping lanes or else they they run the risk of running aground.

    Of course, the locals went nuts and have shown no sense of humor about this. Yet another reason to keep packing and keep looking for that job in Canada before George "The Thief" Bush turns this country into a fascist police state.

  • Oh yeah, that's right.. MIT students care about others, don't want to risk accidents (boats crashing into that stupid bug) and do something harder (how hard is it to tie a car to a rope and toss it off a bridge, try getting a car on top of a building without a crane, now there's a challange).


  • They mention that the perpetrators could go to jail. But how? What law prohibits this kind of thing? (I'm sure the authorities will find a suitable charge if they want - something like Obstructing a Public Highway, or Causing Undue Disturbance, or some blanket law that lets them prosecute this kind of undefined crime).

    Any ideas folks?
  • http://foxnews.com/etcetera/020401/mit.sml
  • Rice U. has a tradition of pranks on campus, but only on occasion do they approach the magnitude of the well-known MIT pranks.

    Many of the pranks often involve "Willy's Statue", [rice.edu] a large seated statue of William Marsh Rice, the university's founder, atop a large granite cube which is actually his tomb. Most recently, the statue was covered up by a 10-foot-tall chess rook [rice.edu] which was apparently an advertisement for a campus chess club.

    The best known, and perhaps largest engineering achievement, happened in 1988 when several students built a frame capable of supporting the weight of the statue, and one night went out and turned the statue 180 degrees, so that instead of facing the 2-story-high arch in the main administrative building which forms the ceremonial front entrance of the university, he had his back to the front entrance.

    The university apparently didn't trust the students to turn the statue back around, so they hired an engineering firm who damaged the statue in the process of turning it back to its normal position. (The students' turning did not damage the statue.)

  • Although usually it's barber's poles rather than park benches. Has a Fb (false but...) in the AFU FAQ [urbanlegends.com]. Other sightings include Caltech [globalprovince.com], Harvard [cwru.edu], and MIT [kjartan.org]. (many of the pages are quite long, search for "barber").
  • I saw this on a UK television documentary 5 or so years ago. Hitler made some sketchs of what he wanted the Volkswagen to look like, and gave these to Ferdinand Porsche. Porsche used Hitler's sketches as the basis of his own designs.

    Look here [ocean.com.au] for a history of the VW Beetle, which seems to clarify that this was indeed the case. It also seems to indicate that Hitler refiened Porsche's designs.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.